New flood defence plans for York city centre could leave residents ‘surrounded by water’.
The Environment Agency is asking for planning permission for flood mitigation measures in both St George’s Car Park and Tower Street.
In the car park, the agency proposes building a new flood defence wall from the car park to tie into the abutment wall of Skeldergate Bridge, strengthening other walls, and raising the entrance ramp.
On Tower Street, support posts would be installed which would enable the use of a temporary flood barrier to hold back the river water.
This will protect 627 properties from flooding, according to the Environment Agency.
The agency says: “Overall, the proposal is a well-designed, necessary and sustainable development that accords with local and national planning policy and will bring substantial public benefit to the City of York.”
However, residents affected by flooding have objected strongly to the plans.
They live in Tower Street, Peckitt Street, Friars Terrace, South Esplanade and Tower Gardens.
They are “at risk of flooding at various different river levels, starting at below 4m river level,” says one resident.
He writes: “The proposed barrier across Tower Street will hold water within our community increasing flood risk to our properties and making existing floods worse, and of longer duration, for others.
“This is water that otherwise would escape from our community. To be clear: flood risk is increased by this proposal, it installs infrastructure specifically to keep water inside our community.”
Another writes: “The plan here is to essentially leave residents completely surrounded by flood water both at the front and the the rear of the properties causing an increased risk to life especially those of elderly residents and children.
“It would make far more sense to quite simply build up the walls of Tower Gardens to prevent any water reaching Tower Street whatsoever, therefore meaning the rear of the properties along Tower Street are kept dry, giving residents an escape route when our houses are flooded from the front.”
Several of the objectors make the point that their community used to be defended to river levels up to 5.1m by a combination of a permanent flood wall, temporary barriers and sewer pumping.
But “the Environment Agency has reduced our community’s flood defences to 4.7m against our objections,” one resident says.
“Installing a new barrier on Tower Street will cause additional flood water to be retained in our immediate locality which will make our local flood risk worse,” they write.
“Due to the range of ground levels and floor levels in the community this will mean that properties that have not previously flooded will flood and floor levels within properties that have not previously flooded will flood.”
No date has yet been set for the City of York Council planning committee to discuss the proposals.
You can read and comment on the Environment Agency’s plans here.